Perthshire Road Network – A Brief History of its Developmen

1555 – Act of Parliament under Queen Mary recognises the importance of Scottish roads.

1592 – Act of Parliament under James VI similar to that of 1555.

1617 – Act of Parliament requiring “all highways between market towns and seaports to be at least 20 feet wide”. The roads were given over to the charge of Justices of the Peace (JPs).

1669 – Act of Parliament under Charles II relating to repair of highways and bridges. Also tightened up JPs role by requiring an annual meeting of JPs with Shire Sheriffs. Local people also required as road repair levies – up to six days a year. A Land Tax was additionally raised for the financing of these repairs.

1686 – Act of Parliament under James VII, “Highways and Bridges Act”. Road responsibilities now shared between the JPs and the County Commissioners for Supply.

1715 and 1745 – Rebellions gave impetus to the building of military specification roads across Scotland.

1724-40 – 238 miles of military road built in the Highlands under direction of Major General George Wade.

1740-67 – Further 800-900 miles of military road built under the direction of Major William Caulfield. Note: these military roads were still maintained by the military until 1790.

Perthshire followed the acts and its road networks increased and developed. Several military roads were built in Perthshire connecting Crianlarich, Crieff, Dunkeld, Dalna Cardoch, Stirling and Cupar. The state also allowed private speculators to build roads and charge tolls. For example, the 1789 Perthshire Turnpike Act. This profiteering affected farmer’s livelihood and others taking produce to market. The state set standards for these roads and gave the speculators rights to appropriate land for road building.

Thomas Telford 1802/3 Report on Highland roads led to increased spending on road maintenance. By 1821, 900 miles of road built and 1,000 bridges erected at a cost of some £500,000. Financial burden of repair saw many of the Highland roads neglected and/or privatised.

1832 – Perthshire has 36 turnpikes. However, road building and maintenance costs increased to levels that saw the attractiveness of the turnpike industry wane and road/bridge debt increase. The state was to intervene and rescue private industry with tax-payers money.

1878 – The turnpike system was abolished and the county road trustees (burghs) took over.

1889 – With the county councils established the government of roads passed to them.